Prescribed asthma medication paired with diet and self-care strategies may help ease severe asthma symptoms.
Asthma is a disorder that affects the lungs, making it difficult to breathe and perform physical activities. During an attack, the airways swell, muscles constrict, and mucus fills the airways, resulting in coughing and chest tightness.
You may be curious whether there’s anything natural you can do to help reduce your symptoms. Here’s what the research says about 13 complementary therapies you may want to try for your asthma.
Although there’s no specific diet for people with asthma, there are a few nutrients and foods that may help relieve your symptoms.
1. Beta-carotene, vitamin C, vitamin E
Being overweight or having obesity
These foods are good sources of antioxidants like beta-carotene, vitamin C, and vitamin E, which
However, if you experience a flare-up in asthma symptoms after eating certain foods, try to avoid them. You may have a food allergy that’s causing your symptoms to worsen. Talk with your doctor to confirm this.
2. The gut microbiome
Consuming probiotics may help reduce inflammation. In a 2021 study, researchers found that combining probiotics with regular asthma treatment improved symptoms.
Sources of probiotics include fermented foods such as:
- yogurt or kefir
In addition some cheeses contain probiotics, and you can also take probiotic supplements, though getting them from your diet may be preferable.
Garlic has several health benefits, including anti-inflammatory properties, according to research. Because asthma is an inflammatory disease, garlic may be able to help relieve your symptoms.
Still, there’s no conclusive evidence that garlic is effective against preventing asthma flare-ups.
Ginger is another herb that contains anti-inflammatory properties and may help with severe asthma. In particular, it contains a compound called 6-gingerol, which has been shown to
These studies were specifically focused on lung inflammation induced by a dust mite allergy, which can be an asthma trigger.
Studies also suggest that ginger may help relax the trachea and airway muscles, as well as reduce mechanical ventilation time for people with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). That said, a clinical trial on ginger and asthma in human subjects is still ongoing.
Honey is frequently used in cold remedies to help soothe the throat and reduce coughing. You can mix honey with a hot beverage like herbal tea to help relieve your symptoms.
According to a
Other scientific evidence that honey should be used as an alternative asthma treatment is
6. Omega-3 oils
Omega-3 oils, which can be found in fish and flax seeds, have been shown to have many health benefits. They are also associated with decreased airway inflammation, which may help improve lung function in people with severe asthma.
However, research also shows that people taking high doses of oral steroids to treat their asthma symptoms may not see as much benefit from consuming omega-3 through food or fish oil supplements.
This is because steroids block the beneficial effects of omega-3 oils. It’s a good idea to check with your dohctor before upping your intake of omega-3.
Caffeine is a bronchodilator, which means it can help open up the pathways into the lungs. Also, it can help reduce respiratory muscle fatigue.
A 2022 study found that drinking between 0.5 and 3 cups of coffee or tea daily can help reduce the likelihood of getting adult-onset asthma. Also, keeping caffeine consumption between 160 and 305 milligrams (mg) daily also reduces the chance of developing adult asthma.
Several different breathing exercises may help relieve symptoms of asthma. These include:
8. Buteyko Breathing Technique
The Buteyko Breathing Technique (BBT) is a system of breathing exercises. BBT focuses on breathing out of your nose instead of your mouth. Breathing out of your mouth can dry your airways and make them more sensitive.
Some people may experience less respiratory infections from using this technique. Others who practice BBT believe that it helps to raise your carbon dioxide levels. Still, there isn’t conclusive evidence to support this theory.
9. Papworth method
The Papworth method is a breathing and relaxation technique used since the 1960s to help people with asthma. It involves using your nose and diaphragm to develop breathing patterns. You can then apply these breathing patterns to various activities that may cause your asthma to flare-up.
A training course is usually recommended before adopting the exercises as part of your daily routine.
Yoga incorporates stretching and breathing exercises to help boost flexibility and increase overall fitness. For many people, practicing yoga can decrease stress, which may trigger your asthma.
Studies have found that people trained in Yoga may experience fewer asthma attacks and have better results in breathing tests.
In hypnotherapy, hypnosis makes a person more relaxed and open to new ways to think, feel, and behave. Hypnotherapy may also help facilitate muscle relaxation, which may help people with asthma cope with symptoms like chest tightness.
This may explain why a 2021 study on hypnotherapy found that people with known psychological asthma triggers can find some symptom relief with this treatment.
12. Mindfulness and meditation
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that focuses on how the mind and the body are feeling in the present moment. It can be practiced almost anywhere.
All that you need is a quiet place to sit down, close your eyes, and focus your attention on the thoughts, feelings, and sensations in your body.
Because of its stress-relieving benefits, mindfulness may help to complement your prescription medication and relieve stress-related asthma symptoms.
There’s some evidence that acupuncture and speleotherapy may help reduce asthma symptom severity.
Acupuncture is a form of Traditional Chinese medicine that involves placing small needles into specific points on the body. Some people with asthma may find that acupuncture helps to improve airflow and manage symptoms like chest pain.
However, the long-term benefits of acupuncture have not yet been proven effective against asthma.
Speleotherapy is a type of dry salt therapy. It involves spending time in a salt room, introducing tiny particles into the respiratory system.
One 2018 study on asthma in children found that after 4 weeks of speleotherapy, symptoms seemed to improve, as well as levels of nitric oxide, which is a marker for asthma inflammation.
Some of these natural approaches may help reduce asthma symptoms, but you check with your doctor before trying anything.
Your doctor may also recommend you continue taking your usual asthma medications, and they may adjust your dosage if your asthma is severe.